park closed

Fort Frederica National Monument offers a glimpse into St. Simons island’s past.

Millions of dollars for maintenance for federal lands and historic sites may soon be headed for Georgia’s coast.

When that will be is a matter for the U.S. House of Representatives, which has yet to act on the funding.

The Senate approved $21.3 million in deferred maintenance projects at Fort Frederica National Monument on St. Simons Island, Cumberland Island National Seashore in Camden County and at four national wildlife refuges.

Fort Frederica is slated to receive $2.3 million, and Cumberland Island National Seashore $7.1 million.

National wildlife refuges included in the deferred maintenance funding package are Harris Neck, $2.6 million; Okefenokee, $5.2 million; Blackbeard Island, $3.3 million; and Wassaw, $865,000.

Projects in Georgia will be addressed through a fund created by the Great American Outdoors Act at no additional cost to taxpayers, said one of chief supporters of the funding, U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga.

The bipartisan legislation will fully and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and help address the nearly $20 billion maintenance backlog in national parks and other land management agencies, she said.

No one wants to see the funding pass the House more than U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter. The projects are in the Republican’s area of representation.

“The Land and Water Conservation Fund is critically important to address backlogs and maintenance and to preserve our treasures in the First District of Georgia,” Carter said. “I am glad that the Great American Outdoors Act has passed the Senate and I urge majority leadership in the House to bring it to the floor for a vote as soon as possible.

President Trump has already said that he supports permanently and fully funding the LWCF, so let’s get it to his desk ASAP.”

The Great American Outdoors Act passed the Senate June 17 by a vote of 73 to 25.

Loeffler said it will be money well spent.

“Georgians of all ages have long looked to our state parks to enjoy fresh air, preserve natural treasures, honor state history and promote Georgia tourism,” Loeffler said. “The Great American Outdoors Act will help to ensure both current and future generations can enjoy the pristine beauty of our natural resources in Georgia and across the county.”

The parks and refuges the funding will support have another benefit, she said.

“This funding will invest in our state’s infrastructure, create jobs and support our local economies,” Loeffler said.

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